Justice Minister-Designate’s Corruption Issue: President Weah’s First Test

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Just after giving public officials a stern warning on corruption and pledging earlier that no corrupt official would be allowed in his government, President George Weah is set to face his  first test in his appointment of public officials.

Among the first batch of officials named for ministerial positions is Cllr. Charles Gibson, who has been designated to take over as Minister of Justice.

Reports about the Justice Minister-designate, however, do not clear him to take over such a key ministry, one of the nation’s primary INTEGRITY institutions, designed by the Constitution of the Republic to administer JUSTICE and transparency in government and in the Republic. It is also charged with the sacred (holy, consecrated) responsibility of helping the President of Liberia to fight corruption, which is known to be endemic (rampant, widespread) in Liberia.

According to our Judicial Correspondent, Abednego Davis, Cllr. Charles Gibson has been suspended by the Supreme Court from practicing law in Liberia because he duped one of his clients, Anwar A. Saoud, of US$25,400.

Following an investigation by the Liberia Supreme Court’s Grievance and Ethics Committee, our Reporter said Justice Minister-designate Charles Gibson was charged with misleading his client on whose behalf he had instituted a series of lawsuits to recover loans and other obligations from customers, from which he should have been able to account for the US$25,400 he earlier collected. But the records show that Counselor Gibson was unable to account for this money, hence the verdict by the Grievance Committee against him, approved by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

In addition to the two-month suspension of Counselor Charles Gibson’s license, the Supreme Court imposed a two-month ban on him from the practice of law in the Republic.

Interestingly, Cllr. Gibson, apparently upon hearing through the grapevine that he was scheduled to become the next Justice Minister, reportedly issued on January 17, 2018, a manager’s check of US$25,400 in Liberian dollars to restitute the amount due Mr. Saoud, since a ban was placed on Cllr. Charles Gibson on February 24, 2017.

In his inaugural speech last Monday, January 22, at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, President George M. Weah was emphatic on the issue of corruption, perhaps the only issue that the public can hold him by for promising to fight without compromise.

President Weah declared, “I further believe that the overwhelming mandate I received from the Liberian people is a mandate to end corruption in public service. I promise to deliver on this mandate. As officials of Government, it is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests. It is time, to be honest with our people. Though corruption is a habit among our people, we must end it; we must pay civil servants a living wage so that corruption is not an excuse for taking what is not theirs. Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people – the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Prior to making that utterance, a civil society group, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), had begun propagating on billboards urging President George Weah and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to keep and deliver their campaign promises.

This is an indication that every promise made is still fresh in the minds of the Liberian people and other stakeholders, that they are highly anticipating to see fulfilled.

The enormous task of fighting endemic corruption, therefore, must start with the appointment process, especially with the Justice Minister-designate.

Justice, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, means the quality of being just; conformity to the principles of righteousness and rectitude in all things, strict performance of moral obligations; practical conformity to human or divine law; integrity in the dealings of men with each other.

Holding onto this definition and your promise to fight and end corruption, Mr. President, moral judgment will not conform to the appointment of Cllr. Gibson, whose testimony from the highest court of the land is marred by corrupt comportment.

What assurances can Anwar and the public have that Cllr. Gibson would have paid the money if the issue of prospective appointment had not surfaced? Apparently, he would have remained mute had he not been appointed. Besides, the hasty issuance of a manager’s check in compliance with the court’s mandate to restitute the money does not in any way show that the Justice Minister-designate is honest.

He rather undertook a hypocritical act to set false impression.

Mr. President, we believe you were aware of party solidarity and tribal and regional connections when you made a promise to fight and end corruption in Liberia. There was no partiality in your speech. You rather made a promise that you intended to create an impact on all Liberians regardless of tribal background, social status or religion.

It is a critical moment for you this time, President Weah, as you make appointments in government. We hope and pray that you will be credible and impartial in your decisions to appointment people with good moral conduct and reject those without.

The case of Cllr. Charles Gibson is your first test.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. A food for thought Mr. President George Oppong Weah!

    An anonymous philosopher once said, “A leader is judged by the company he keeps, and a company is judged by the leader it keeps, and the people of Democratic nations are judged by the type and caliber of officers they elect and appoint.”

    The world is watching you Mr. President! For so long you wanted this arduous responsibility of leading this economically deprived nation to its rightful place among the comity of nations. On January 22, 2018 thousands around the world watched you take this solemn oath.

    You can only achieve your illustrious goals, which you articulated so well during your inaugural address, by appointing government officials of high calibers and sound principles: people with the knowledge, experience, moral character, and the dedication to turn Liberia around for the better.

    There are some party loyalists like the designated Justice Minister, Cllr. Charles Gibson, who has a tainted fiduciary duty, when he embezzled his client money thus leading to suspension of his law license.

    There are critical positions that need serious thought and consultation: namely, the finance ministry; the foreign affairs ministry; the education ministry; the public works ministry; commerce ministry; agriculture ministry; interior ministry; and some of the autonomous agencies: namely, forestry; LEC; LWSC; and just to name a few.

    Beware of recent CDC proselytes (recent converts to CDC party). These and other manipulators are all trying to win influence for their own political aggrandizement. It is good to have an inclusive government to foster national unity but not at the expense of giving jobs to friends and partisans who are not qualify to execute the functions and responsibility of those critical entities of government that are essential in making Liberia a prosperous nation.

    Remember Mr. President, “A leader is judged by the company he keeps and the caliber of officers s/he appoints.”

    • You are right on point Bro. Conneh. His appointments should be based on integrity and qualifications and not on friendship if he wants to be a successful president…

  2. He will never withdraw his name but this is very disappointing. Once a thief always a darn thief. Weah, is this the change we are looking to you for. You better not let that old lady and friendship spoil your legacy. Do not appoint no friend or useless people. We are watching public works as well. No boyfriend should be appointed there. We need good people now.

  3. Mr. President, I think it would be wise to keep a copy of your inaugural address with you at all times as reminder when you are about to appoint/nominate someone…and if the nominee meets the criteria set forth, then you can forward the name.

    But in all fairness, like me, the president may or may not have known about Cllr. Gibson’s legal impropriety. I did not know either until now, and so I give him the benefit of the doubt. However, the public expect him to take the appropriate actions once he’s aware of the facts.

    That being said, the main culprit is the committee that is empowered with the vetting and subsequent recommendation to the president. I am sure the president knows some of the individuals but not to the level that would require background information; and there are those that he may not know. It is therefore within the purview of the committee to ensure that names that are forwarded to the president are thoroughly vetted so as to avoid any embarrassment. So, holding the president responsible for these nominations, for now, will be a bit of a stretch for me. However, I expect the president to put the committee on the guide not to embarrass him, otherwise members will be replaced! If President Weah is to success he’s must be firm…

  4. It is not because George Manneh Weah is elected President that Liberia’s endemic or
    colonial problem of corruption will be solved overnight. It requires a gradual process
    to get rid of corruption in Liberia.

    When President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in her inauguration classified corruption as
    “enemy number one” and, yet did nothing to end it and, in fact, she herself became a
    major corrupt figure in the country, why you who are writing about the Cllr. Charles
    Gibson affairs did not say anything to Ellen Sirleaf? When former Minister of Justice
    Christina Tah was suspended, why you people did not say anything when she sitting
    as Minister of Justice waiting for her suspension to be lifted? Or is it because it George
    Weah?

    I do not agree with what Cllr. Charles Gibson did, but mind you, you do not know how
    far Cllr. Gibson and President George Weah have come. When the CDC was struggling
    for money, it received financial support from its members including Cllr. Charles Gibson.
    I am sure that Cllr. Gibson had learned a great lesson from this his mistake. That should
    not deprive him of his opportunity and privilege to serve his country as Minister of Justice.

  5. Please let us not over policies issue that will backward the peace and development of Liberia by using mouth blade. The president has just stated work. The issue of Cllr. Gibson is not the only issue in Liberia though we hold him by his inaugural speech.

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